Friday 18 May 2012

Sticking to her guns

The decision by Plaid’s new leader, Leanne Wood, not to attend the Jubilee service led to a fairly sustained correspondence in the letters pages of the Western Mail in the period since it was announced.  Some of the letters have been from the usual suspects (does ‘Monarchy Wales’ actually have more than one member?), as one might expect.  Supporters of the status quo talk about the ‘hard work’ and ‘service’ provided by the current monarch over many years, whilst others talk of ‘disrespect’ to a visitor to Wales (without, apparently, realising the irony of the description of 'our' monarch as a ‘visitor’).
That there are plenty in Wales who feel an attachment to both the institution and the current incumbent is surely no surprise to anyone.  But one of the things that has struck me repeatedly every time the issue comes up is the conflation of republicanism and nationalism in the minds of many.  It’s a connection which does not stand up to analysis. 
Many members of the Labour Party are republicans (although a number prefer not to admit it), and, whisper it quietly, there are plenty of Tories who would struggle to convince anyone that they honestly believe that the head of state should be a hereditary position.  I’m sure that there are some Lib Dems, too, who support the idea of a republic, although how many and which ones probably depends, like so many of their policies, on who’s listening and whether there’s an ‘r’ in the month.
The point is that nationalists in Wales certainly have no monopoly on republican thinking.
Views within Plaid and the wider national movement vary, as they do for the other parties.  Leaving aside any whose deep and sincere convictions stem, like those of so many politicians in the UK parties, from the findings of the latest focus group, there are three main strands of opinion amongst Wales’ nationalists.
  • There are a minority who actually support the continuation of the UK monarchy for Wales after independence - and not just for reasons of political convenience.  The number is not large, but Oscar’s discovery of his undying love for the queen was never an entirely unique phenomenon.
  • There’s another minority, probably even smaller, who believe that we should trace the descendants of Llywelyn Fawr and restore the House of Gwynedd to its Welsh throne.
  • And then there’s the overwhelming majority who are natural and instinctive republicans, and who would still be so even if they were not nationalists.
That’s a personal assessment, of course; but it’s based on decades of involvement and knowledge of the national movement, and I’m convinced that it’s a fair assessment.  So why all the fuss when Plaid’s new leader actually says what most of her party’s members believe?
The main point worth noting is that whilst the members might actually support the republican viewpoint, they don’t usually say so – and although there is a clear majority of republicans within Plaid, the party has never got around to formally adopting a republican policy. 
For some that’s simply a way of avoiding debate on an issue which is not likely to be a vote-winner.  But for most, it’s more about an assessment of political priorities.  Gaining independence - or, in the interim, significant real powers for the National Assembly - is seen as a higher priority that trying to strip away the vestigial powers of the monarchy.  If the monarchy’s influence is more symbolic than real, why pick a symbolic battle, when the real one needs to be fought?
This year, though, things changed.  Plaid’s members overwhelmingly elected a leader who has, for many years, made her own republican viewpoint crystal clear.  And whilst some might see the issue as a symbolic one which can be left for another time, Leanne does not; she sees it as a more immediate issue.  No-one in Plaid can have been in any doubt about Leanne’s stance when they voted for her – and they should not expect her to change her stance now.
I’m no longer close enough to know for certain what goes on, but I can imagine the siren voices suggesting to Leanne that, as leader, she should tone down her comments, and modify her stance.  Personally, I think that would be a mistake.  If there’s one thing that Plaid should learn from recent experience it is that fudge and expediency end up looking like shiftiness and dishonesty.
Having nailed her colours so firmly to the mast over so many years, expecting her to change tack now is not only realistic, it would be a mistake on a grand scale.  For any politician who strongly holds a principled view, being willing to express it forcibly and honestly, even in the teeth of disagreement, is invariably going to be more effective than trying to pretend to believe something else.
And who knows; having a mainstream politician expressing republican views may even make more people think about the issue – and maybe even change their views.


Adam Higgitt said...

I don't disagree with a word of this, and yet I feel you have omitted something fairly important: Republicanism is strongly associated with Plaid because the Monarchy is seen by some as the quintessential institution of Britishness, and if there is one area in which Plaid excels it is chauvinistic anti-Britishness. Quite simply, the less British you want to be, the more you are likely to want to do away with the Monarchy. That, I think, is why the association is so strong.

On the question of what Leanne Wood does, I have no firm views beyond sharing your views that politicians should stick to their convictions and are more likely to be rewarded for doing so than for fudging or altering position. More generally, however (and I speak as a Republican) I do question the necessity and purpose of boycotting Royal events. I wrote a piece for WalesHome in which I urged everyone regardless of ideology to try and have some fun at the Royal wedding, and the exploit the opportunity for community and neighbourly activities that such an event afforded. Needless to say, it provoked some trenchant disagreement, but I stick to my argument there. Whatever you think of the institution of Monarchy, we get far too few excuses to come together and have a party with the neighbours to let the Jubilee or a Royal wedding pass. Indeed, the fact that secular, moderate Republicans with no great affinity for the UK such as me are happy to join in shows that there is an appetite for such get togethers, and which won;t easily be filled if and when the Monarchy is dumped. It takes time for new civic traditions to be minted, and those of us who do believe that an elected head of state is preferable to a hereditary one ought to think about that side of things as well as the constitutional rectitude of such reform.

Anonymous said...

" Personally, I think that would be a mistake. If there’s one thing that Plaid should learn from recent experience it is that fudge and expediency end up looking like shiftiness and dishonesty."

That is right of course, but a bigger lesson is not to make at best trivial issues to the electorate a key message when you get a chance to communicate with them. My worry (not Leanne's fault) is that every single interview involves that question; it's a minor issue that is a majority agnostic in terms of where the populace is.

Salmond put it to bed, so should Plaid; a position of "an independent Wales would mean the people be given the right to choose to have the Windsors as head of state or be a republican state". End of.

I am an agnostic republican, if given the vote I would vote for a republic, but frankly once we are independent, I can put up with the Windsors visiting a few times a year in exchange for independence.

Old_Miwl said...

There is probably a small majority in favour of the monarchy in Wales(although this may change when Charles takes the throne) and the rest are split between republicans and not really bothered. The hard monarchists are however, very vocal.
I see myself as a "soft republican" and there are plenty of "soft monarchists" out there as well, and there is no reason that someone with strong republican views, and who is consistent and principled can't win their respect and support.

John Dixon said...

I accept Adam's point about the omission; I cannot disagree that associating chauvinistic anti-Britishness with republicanism is a reasonable connection to make, nor that the less British you want to be, the more you are likely to want to do away with the monarchy. Whether it is fair to paint all nationalists as 'being chauvinistic anti-British' is another question though. Some certainly are, that's undeniable; but being pro-Wales is not the same thing as being anti-Britain.

And even if it were, being anti-Britain is far from being the only reason for dumping the monarchy - opposition to heredity and privilege and a belief in democracy are equally strong drivers - and in my case stronger ones. And those drivers are by no means confined to the ranks of Welsh nationalists, even if some do try and claim unique possession.

I don't go as far as Adam in advocating joining in the fun, but the question of whether opposition to the institution should necessarily be translated into boycotting the incumbent and 'all her works' is certainly open to argument, as Anon suggests. My point, however, was not whether such a boycott was the right or the wrong thing to do, but rather that 'we are where we are'.

And from that perspective, whether Leanne's position on boycotting rotal events is a wise one or not is by now irrelevant. My main points are simply these:

1. Plaid's membership elected Leanne, and did so with a clear mandate, knowing her stance on this issue, and expecting that to change is unrealistic.

2. Honesty, integrity, and consistency are unusual and valuable attributes in a politician. Using those as a selling point is likely to be far more productive than any attempt to move away from them for fear of electoral damage. Given what went before, that's a lesson which should surely be obvious.

Alwyn ap Huw said...

The descent from the princes of Gwynedd and Deheubarth is not in doubt! If it was dependent on primogenitor, the True Prince of Wales would be a close relation of the horse jockey Peter Scudamore.

The principality of Wales was never decided by birth, it was always decided by battle; which was why the Normans never conquered Wales.

I am a Welsh nobleman, I have as much right to the crown as Mr Scudamore and I am willing to castrate and blind him, if that what it still takes to become the leader of our nation!

To be honest I don't give a fig about the Royal Family. To hate or oppose them would suggest a feeling, but I have absolutely no feelings for or against the Windsors. I don't care, I couldn't give a damn, I'm just not interested in Royalty.

My criticism of Leanne isn't about her opposition to the Queen, but more about why she thinks that the Queen is worthy of her opposition!

Hendre said...

It could be argued that the present monarch has been fortunate in that the early part of her reign co-incided with the legacy of the Attlee Government/post-war consensus.

With the dismantling of that legacy will there be such an appetite to use royal occasions as UK 'national' occasions?

Will the Great British public tire of the chirruping of England's Rose's little boy and his missus about the wonders of 'charidee' work as opposed to social justice? A folorn hope probably!

Unknown said...

I have to say that all this fuss about Leanne's 'actions' ,which amounted no more than turning down and invitation (which incidentally the Queen of Spain has also done - so it is not only republicans!)- she has not commented on it since!

I became a republican when at the age of about 7 I was paraded out, by my school, to line Priory street in Caerfyrddin, with our little paper union jacks, to wave at some obscure royal. I still don't know who it was.

They were nearly 3 hours late,by which time we were soaking wet - it was pishing down - and they raced past at a speed that would have got a normal citizen arrested.

Then there was the investiture! A cynical use of the power of the monarchy for political purposes! Don't get me started!

M Owen said...

As a staunch Plaid voter, I'm ambivalent about the Royals. I'm between I couldn't care and I couldn't care less. Totally irrevelant to me.

Pads said...

It's a pity that she's known for the "Mrs Windsor" remark - but at least people had heard of her when she was elected leader of Plaid.

If someone thought it appropriate to invite the King of Bahrain to a party I would refuse an invitation from that person.

Nic Parry said...

Adam Higgitt writes "one area in which Plaid excels it is chauvinistic anti-Britishness." Charming! If I was being uncharitable I could turn that round and say "one area in which Unionist parties excels it is chauvinistic anti-Welshness."

As John says, I vote Plaid because I want the best for Wales and the people of Wales not because Im against something, I want to see a Wales that believes in real social justice, does not embark on illegal wars based on lies, that does not throw bilions at the banks while the ordinary people suffer as Adam Higgitt own party has done.

Glyndo said...

I think we can all agree that Wales is extremely unlikely to be a republic whilst part of the UK. So, if we want to be a republic we first have to leave the UK. The question is, will promoting republicanism help or hinder the journey to Independence? My experience is that most people are wary of change and two lots of change might be too much for them to swallow. So we should concentrate on the one change and leave the campaign for the other until we have achieved the first. The SNP are spot on in this.
I take your point that Leanne can hardly back track, but her stance on the issue is detrimental to the long term aims of Plaid Cymru. IMHO.
I say this as someone who believes that the monarchy is fundamentally wrong, because it quite obviously legitimises the existence of inherited privilege. However, I also believe that I am in minority in Wales.

Adam Higgitt said...

"If I was being uncharitable I could turn that round and say "one area in which Unionist parties excels it is chauvinistic anti-Welshness."

But it isn't true, is it? Unionism accommodates Welshness. Welsh nationalism excludes Britishness.

"I vote Plaid...not because I'm against something"

And yet two of the justifications you then cite are against things (illegal wars and throwing billions at the banks).

Unknown said...

Adam - if you think that unionism embraces Welshness, then you are deluded. That is the fiction being touted by the unionist parties, but the other side of the border,Great Britain is nothing more than Greater England.

Plaid Panteg said...

"Welsh nationalism excludes Britishness."

No it doesn't, it excludes a British political union*, but you have no right to assume that being in support of civic independence means an exclusion of a British identity within that new independent state.

Much of what is left of Britishness in the 21st century is cultural, that can and probably will remain post-independence as it wrapped up in our own personal identity.

Given politics relatively low stickiness within the public's mind, I fail to see how the end of the political union would feature as some seismic event in a good number of people's lives actually.

*It's my personal view that an element of political union between the hopefully then independent nations of the former UK would happen, on terms agreed to by the four nations (maybe even Ireland too). But this would be for the individual nations to decide.

Nic Parry said...

"Unionism embraces Welshness" - oh my lord, a paradox by definition, to marginalise Welshness, our langauge, our history and promote Britishness, whatever that is these days, is at the heart of Unionist ideology. The real way to enhance Britishness is to get rid of political union & enhance the cultural union.

And yet two of the justifications you then cite are against things (illegal wars and throwing billions at the banks). - Don't be childish, you know very well what I mean. The legacy of unionism has left Wales, the poor relative of the isles. The real answers to all our questions, lie in the hearts, brains and souls of the people of Wales. Trouble is we’ve been so used to being frustrated that pessimism's become default setting-if we don’t believe things can change they won’t.

Adam Higgitt said...

Marcus, Nic

"No it doesn't, it excludes a British political union*, but you have no right to assume that being in support of civic independence means an exclusion of a British identity within that new independent state

I cannot think of a single, substantive statement by a senior Plaid politician in support of cultural Britishness (or any other form of Britishness) for that matter.

On the other hand, I can think of numerous example of unionist politicians both accommodating and embracing Welshness. "Proud to be Welsh and proud to be be British" is something I've heard unionist politicians say often. When have you ever heard a Plaid politician say that?

There is a difference here. Political nationalism is an exclusive project dedicated to the notion that state and nation must be coterminous. Political unionism is dedicated to the proposition that a plurinational state works best.

And that's before we acknowledge the fairly significant step of devolving power in the first place -hardly the action of an ideology guilty as charge by you and Sionnyn.

"Don't be childish, you know very well what I mean. The legacy of unionism has left Wales, the poor relative of the isles."

I don't, actually. You say you want independence for something, yet can only come up with things that you are against in evidence.

You say the "legacy of unionism has left Wales...poor" (another negative, incidentally) - where's the evidence for that? All we know for sure is that Wales is relatively poor and is part of a political union. There's a correlation, but the causal link that you so confidently claim hasn't been established by you or anyone else. For all we know, an independent Wales could have been much poorer.

Unknown said...

Adam - "I cannot think of a single, substantive statement by a senior Plaid politician in support of cultural Britishness (or any other form of Britishness) for that matter." then you don't listen to the liked of Lord Elis Thomas. I don't blame you - I don't either. He was in particularly emetic form in the Politics Show on Sunday.

It is possible that an independent Wales would have just as poor, or even poorer, as the dependent one we now inhabit, but at least we would have nobody to blame but ourselves. The likelihood is that we would be far better off, and I don't need to remind you of the comparative performance of small countries, do I?

Plaid Panteg said...

"I cannot think of a single, substantive statement by a senior Plaid politician in support of cultural Britishness (or any other form of Britishness) for that matter.

On the other hand, I can think of numerous example of unionist politicians both accommodating and embracing Welshness. "Proud to be Welsh and proud to be be British" is something I've heard unionist politicians say often. When have you ever heard a Plaid politician say that?"

That isn't what I argued though; you don't have to be 'proud' of something to recognise and accept it exists. Not supporting 'Britishness' is not the same as excluding it.

You have basically told Welsh nationalists that they exclude Britishness, which is a negative by the way ;)

I am saying that it would be churlish to suggest that something as relatively minor in most people's lives as new political settlement would eradicate people's cultural makeup, which is decided by themselves.

Many people in Scotland will mainly see the end of the political union with England as a civic matter, rather than one that means they have alter their cultural ties and make up.

I am sure an independent Scotland will still include a populace who will feel and embrace British cultural ties built on a common recent history. I doubt the SNP (or Plaid) would post independence start rounding people up for maintaining such ties!

Adam Higgitt said...

"I don't need to remind you of the comparative performance of small countries, do I?"

As in Brazil, Russia, India or China?

But I take your point about DET - and just look at the regard in which he is held within Plaid for his views on these matters.

Unknown said...

As in Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Euskadi (which, while not yet being independent, is fully autonomous). Even Iceland which saw hit badly by the banking crisis, is powering out of the recession.
You will, of course, have read the Flotilla Effect, which although commissioned by Plaid Cymru, bears the imprint of Harvard University - probably the most prestigious university in the world. You will see from it that the smaler countries (<10 million) have weathered the crisis better, and emerged faster than the larger ones.

Adam Higgitt said...

Yes, I saw the Flotilla Effect. It ignored the BRICs as well. Terribly inconvenient of these massive countries to have GDP growth far ahead of any other.

If WalesHome was not in purgatory at present you could read my argument as to why the report was not persuasive. And you could read Adam Price's rejoinder. Suffice to say here that I think that there are many more significant drivers of success than size.

p.s you missed Ireland off your list. It used to be the very model of what an independent Wales would achieve.

Nic Parry said...

"Unionism accommodates Welshness" - that sounds pretty much like Really? If Unionism is so accomadating then -

WHY do we still do not have a St.David's day as a public holiday? All the parties in the Assembly support it but Westminster says no, with all manner of excuses, despite having 2 bank holidays for her majesty.

WHY can't Welsh athletes in the Olympics at least have a choice if they wish of having the Welsh national flag or the Union Jack, to hear the Welsh national athem or God's Save the Queen, which of course is the British - English anthem.

WHY is Wales is under-funded by at least £300m each year by Labour and Tory Westminster governments, as confirmed by the independent Holtham Commission.

WHY when more powers are being devolved to Northern Ireland and Scotland, we remain the poor relation in devolution terms. Someone once said "What's the difference between Evolution and Devolution? Devolution takes longer".

Talking about being 'negative' I found Labour and their Unite servant Andy Richards disgraceful personal attacks on Leanne Wood very negative indeed. Will you condemn them?

Rhodri Eilir Griffiths said...

@Adam - Like many proud nationalists I have struggled with the idea of being British and have never described myself as such. But what will happen to the whole concept as Scotland moves towards independence and can the idea make a comeback and even become respectable in nationalist circles?

Firstly, I suppose Britishness is as much about geography as it is about identity and history. Coming from Pen Llyn in the western part of the island of Greater Britain I am as much British as someone from Stockholm is Scandinavian.

It’s when we try and add the other bits that we start to get into the difficulties. If Britishness is to work as a cultural idea a shared story as well as a shared geography has to be constructed. And that’s the hard part. No one has ever come up with a convincing definition of Britishness because there probably isn’t one. And the concept has to be almost constantly rewritten remember Gordon Brown’s clumsy and excruciating attempt and Michael Portillo’s nonsense about anti-fanaticism? Cultural Britishness is then a rather curious construct that can be almost anything, and usually is, hence the mom and apple pie attributes usually associated with Britishness when people are asked to define it.

But there is absolutely no doubt that people indeed do feel and identify themselves as British, even in Wales and Scotland. For me Britishness is so much more than the usual confused descriptions. For me cultural Britishness isn’t one thing but is the sum of the centuries old journey that we have enjoyed and endured on this island. It is what we have achieved and secured together in this partnership. It is about the great historic cultural achievements from the industrial revolution to our great rock and pop bands. It is about pride in our victories in the wars we fought together and the collective sense of shame in our historic crimes of colonialism and slavery. Britishness is in fact the social union, and being British belongs as much to me as a proud Welsh nationalist and Welsh patriot as it does to anyone from England.

Our gripe then isn’t with cultural Britishness, the social union, but with the current political arrangements within the United Kingdom. As civic nationalists we want the powers to grow our economy and make our own specific international contribution. We want to complete the powers of our Parliament and take responsibility for our own affairs. We have no issues with the past and our British inheritance is a crucial part of our own Welsh story.

Britishness will exist in Wales and Scotland long after we become independent. In fact I think that it could well be enhanced with independence. With independence we will get the opportunity to define a new Britishness, one based on equality and mutual respect. Britishness will still be all about our shared history and culture but it can also be about the new positive relationship we will seek to build.

I would also be happy to see any number of shared institutions being called British and it could and should be the brand name of our new enhanced and equal 21st century partnership. Who knows maybe independence can give Britishness a new lease of life.

So there you go, that’s me Adam, British and proud of it in an independent Wales.

Adam Higgitt said...


I could just as easily demand to know that if unionism does not accommodate Welshness then how is it that there is a Welsh Assembly, statutory protection for the Welsh language and numerous other such things? Then we could both chase our tails trying to define what constitutes accommodation - with you always wanting more up to and including full separation. Yet through all that the fact will remain that unionism explicitly recognises the existence of different nations within the state, and has made some efforts to make space for them.

I'll ignore your attempt to shoe horn the latest little contrived Bay bubble spat into this. Find someone else to have your party political bun fights with.


I understand the distinction you and others are drawing between, if you like, political and cultural Britishness. I also note that you hold out the possibility that the latter may become acceptable within nationalist circles. Perhaps. I see no evidence of that - in fact the one senior Plaid politician who dares to even hint at such a thing (DET) is held to be a maverick, and appears to have no base whatsoever in the next generation of Plaid activists. It's hard therefore to accept the argument that there is a trend within Welsh nationalism toward accommodating Britishness, or even acknowledging it as a legitimate identity.

Unknown said...

Adam - the BRIC countrries are not in the EU, and so ae ouside the scope of the Flotilla effect. Ireland, despite the massive mistake of accepting all the private bank debts as sovereign debt, still has a GDP that is higher than Britain's.

Adam Higgitt said...


The Flotilla Effect is your bit of evidence, not mine. You first talked of the "comparative advantage of small countries" - without qualification. If you are going to talk of the supposed success of small countries it's OK for me to talk of the examples of very big countries - especially since the very biggest are currently showing the by far the most impressive GDP growth (not to mention the likes of Mexico (112m), Indonesia (237m), Turkey (73m) or South Korea (48m)).

What's more, if you believe that examples of other countries can be instructive for Wales, it is surely a mistake to think that only EU states should be examined.

Wales can learn lessons from big and small countries, from regions and entire states, from successes and failures and from EU member states and non-EU member states. Confining such instruction only to small, rich European states is almost certainly a case of stating from a conclusion (Wales is small, European and should be independent) and working backward into the evidence.

John Dixon said...

This has been an interesting discussion, albeit one that has wandered some distance from the original post. There are a couple of points that strike me.

Firstly, on the Flotilla Effect. I welcome any work which is done on the economic consequences of independence from whatever source; it can only add to the debate. But we need to be careful about claiming that a piece of work designed for one purpose actually does something quite different, and some of the claims for this paper have been hopelessly hyped.

The only imaginable context for Welsh independence at present is the European context; with that in mind, it seems to me to be eminently reasonable to concentrate research on that context. I don't really think that to be a case of starting from a conclusion and working back; but it does mean that no-one should claim that the scope of the conclusions extends to a wider one about 'all' small countries, as some seem to want to do.

The second point on that is that even within that narrow context, it certainly didn't 'prove' that small countries do well; whilst it showed a correlation between small size and economic growth, and suggested some possible mechanisms to explain that, it certainly did not evidence cause and effect.

And thirdly, even if it had succeeded in evidencing cause and effect, it was based ultimately on averages; there is no evidence to identify whether Wales would hit the average for a 'small country', be above it, or be below it, so drawing a firm conclusion that 'Wales would have been better off' is going way beyond anything that the conclusions of the paper can support.

What it did do is show that there is no evidence that small countries must inevitably fail in the particular context selected, as some opponents (but far from all) of independence have often claimed. That's a much more limited conclusion, but worthwhile for all that. Many of us might have 'known' that already; but solid evidence to back it up is worth having.

In the wider context, as Adam rightly says in his comments, there are successful large countries as well as successful small ones, and merely claiming that small countries do better is not really evidence-based.

The second issue running through this debate has been the question of Welshness, Britishness, and whether nationalists can and do embrace them and to what extent. The problem I have with the discussion is that I'm just not sure that there are common definitions of 'Welshness', 'Britishness, or even 'embrace', and without at least some commonality of definition, it's hard to see where the debate is going.

Finally, on to the vexed question of His Lordship, DET. Certainly, Adam is right to say that his stance, whatever it might be (and it really isn't always clear to me!) has earned him some opprobium within Plaid. He's not without his supporters either, mind. But it has always seemed to me that such opprobium is based not so much on those ideas which he espouses as on those which he sometimes appears to reject in the process, such as the concept of independence. The negative doesn't prove the positive, it seems to me.

Spirit of BME said...

Well, this clearly has been a “light blue paper- stand well back” in more ways than one.
This Adam person – from where did they dig him up?
Today the Egyptians are going to the polls to elect their Head of State and state TV here is covering the event in enthusiastic terms ,however failing to point out that we as British subjects are denied such rights – funny that.

Adam Higgitt said...


You are right that the thread has drifted somewhat, and I take my share of the blame for that. And the Flotilla Effect has been done to death – if not here, then elsewhere (despite that, and the flutter it caused within the rarefied confines of Welsh political debate, I very much doubt it has had any effect on public perceptions whatsoever).

But I disagree that definition problems make any discussion of Welshness and Britishness too tricky. I wasn’t trying to define either so much as to state that political unionism, by its very essence, seeks to maintain a viable state out of many nations while nationalism, again by essence, attempts to make the state and nation coterminous. In a Welsh context this inevitably means that, while British unionists often stress their Welshness as well as their Britishness, Welsh nationalists only ever stress a single identity. Some people have suggested a Welsh nationalist affinity – emerging or otherwise - for cultural Britishness, but if there is one it does not appear to enjoy any vocal support among any elected Plaid politician, save perhaps for one widely regarded within his own party as a contrarian and renegade. And this lack of any support for any form of Britishness among Plaid’s top tier has to be regarded as a more authentic measure of the party’s sentiment than anything said here. That’s even more odd when you consider that a policy statement or major speech in defence of cultural Britishness could be a good tactic for persuading those who are put off by the unquestionably exclusive dimension to Plaid’s identity politics.

John Dixon said...


I wasn't intending to suggest that you were trying to define the terms; it's more the case that in reading some of the responses to your comments, it didn't seem to me that people were understanding terms in the same way...

Anonymous said...

Wales is painted as the only country in Europe that can't afford Indy ..."too small" and all that. Yet Europes richest are smaller.

Adam writes - "p.s you missed Ireland off your list. It used to be the very model of what an independent Wales would achieve"

Before the recession Ireland was 10 times wealthier than Wales, now its only 5 times. Not a bad deal is it? Funnily enough, I haven't seen evidence of the Irish people pining for the return of London rule.

Guto said...

Perhaps Adam reason why some Welsh nationalist can't embrace 'cultural Britishness', et al is that unionists use such occasions to promote their political agenda.